Morris cars might have stolen the show, but many other vintage and classic vehicles had their set of admirers too, at the MyTVS Heritage Rally held recently

Prejudices among vintage vehicle owners are sometimes carryovers from the past. In the inter-war years, a rivalry was brewing between Morris Motors Limited and Austin Motor Company. Austin and Morris owners took the fight to British taverns, bitterly dissecting the rival cars in slurred conversations. Comparisons continued to be drawn even after the two car majors merged into British Motor Corporation in the early 1950s. The war of words continues to rage, but truces also happen.

A truce was once again reached on August 4 in Chennai, when the Madras Heritage Motoring Club (MHMC) gathered at Don Bosco School grounds for their annual MyTVS Heritage Rally, the club’s ninth on the trot. Austin owners — there are many of them in MHMC — had to put their prejudices on hold, because the day belonged to the Morris camp.

As part of an MHMC exercise to commemorate the ‘Centenary of Morris’, around 20 machines, which included the marques Morris 8 ‘E’ Series, Morris Z-Type and Morris 1000, were prominently displayed at the rally. Cognates of the Morris Oxford, Hindustan 14 cars also joined in the honour.

S. Kylas, MHMC secretary and a Morris 8 owner, observed, “Austin is as iconic as Morris. Austin’s engines and pricing were its attractions.”

Wondering how Kylas, a Morris man, could bring himself to take a detached view of the age-old rivalry?

Well, he owns an Austin 8 as well.

Widening the range

Special categories to judge German, French and Italian cars were introduced in this edition of the rally. The move was aimed at showcasing these cars, which rarely make it to the podium simply because the open field teems with British and American machines. A Volkswagen Karmann Ghia from the 1960s was adjudged the best German car. Karmann Ghia was a hand-crafted sportscar. A Peugeot from the 1970s made the cut in the French category. There was a slip between the bonnet and the grille for the lone Italian machine up for judging: a Fiat 125. Just when it appeared that the car would make it without any competition, the judges decided to scrap the category.

Family drive

There were some surprises in store, the biggest of them being the entry of a 1954 Dodge Kingsway (powerhood) convertible for judging, by two girls bearing the Guhan surname. M.S. Guhan has over the years lent silent support to MHMC rallies, bringing in a fleet of cars but refraining from entering any of them for judging. “This time, his daughters Aruna and Aparna were in the fray with their Dodge Kingsway convertible. The car was adjudged best restored in its category; C.S. Ananth had restored it for the Guhans,” says Kylas.

Public participation

Viewers’ Choice Award was another fresh introduction. “We have created this category to enhance public participation,” says Kylas. Visitors chose the Guhans’ Dodge Kingsway and Sumanth Chaganti’s 1952 BSA Star Twin as the best car and bike. Sumanth’s son Siddharth did a victory lap with the Twin Star, and how! Actor Priya Anand, who had earlier flagged off the rally, rode pillon as he did a round of the school grounds.